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Out today is The Campaign, which stars two top comedians in Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis. Ferrell has been the number one comedian for the past decade or so, becoming a cult hero in Anchorman, Semi Pro, Blades of Glory, Step Brothers and The Other Guys. Galifianakis (The Hangover) is the new Ferrell. He’s the goofy clown and the unpredictable man-child…and very much in the Ferrell mold.
So I was keen to see the master and the apprentice face-off here. Would the young upstart upstage the master, or would the old dog teach the new pup a few tricks?
Ferrell plays Cam Brady, a sleazy, lazy US congressman who’s run unopposed in his North Carolina district. When a pair of powerful millionaires (Dan Aykroyd, John Lithgow) plan to "in-source" cheap Chinese labor to the US, they find the perfect political puppet in Marty Huggins (Galifainakis), a brainless, effeminate boob who’s too clueless to question where his campaign funds are coming from.
Before you can say ‘electioneering,’ the two are trading insults and dirty tricks. Name calling and personal attacks quickly escalate into blackmail and fist fights. Then things get really ugly; Ferrell seduces Galifianakis’s wife, and records it, and Galifianakis shoots Ferrell in the leg.
The Campaign is from Jay Roach, who made the Austin Powers and Meet the Parents movies…so you can expect that kind of juvenile, silly, crass humour. It’s basically the old odd-couple buddy comedy routine, with the two numbskulls going hammer and tong.
It should make for a fun film. Think of it; two top comedians facing off as political enemies, given all the real-life political scandals we’ve had.
Sadly, The Campaign has only a few genuine laughs, so I was largely disappointed. It’s less about political satire than the gutter tactics each do to bring the other down. Neither candidate stands for anything – there’s no actual campaigning — just name-calling and mud-slinging.
It could have been much smarter and funnier if it was written as a shaper political satire instead of a goofball comedy.
That said, a lot of the comedy comes from the mere look of the leads. Galifianakis has a roly-poly body, wears Cosby sweaters and a “Taliban” moustache. Ferrell plainly parted hair goes nicely his blank stare.
There’s a very funny sight gag when both compete to kiss a baby, and Sarah Baker steals it as Huggins’ sweet, wholesome wife, Mitzi.
It also runs at a very quick 85 minutes. If only all political campaigns were that quick!
However, there’s nothing we haven’t seen done before — and done better — in this lowbrow trash-talking comedy. And to be honest, Ferrell’s trademark rants and improvised insults and one-liners are wearing a bit thin and feel quite dated.
So The Campaign does not get my vote.
SCORE: 5 / 10